Jr. Grads come
up short in bid for Major Midget championship
By Fred Sherwin
games in 12 days with a depleted lineup and a shortened bench finally caught
up to the Cumberland Jr. Grads on Friday as they were unable to raise the
level of their play in the critical third period of Game 7 in their Major
Midget championship series against the Nepean Raiders.
the first three games of the series, the Jr. Grads traveled to Prescott
last weekend to take part in the Leo Boivin AA/AAA Midget Tournament and
ended up making it all the way to the final before losing 3-2 in overtime
to York Simcoe.
When the series
resumed on Monday, the Grads used the positive experience they gained from
the tournament to spur them to a 4-0 win over the Raiders. They followed
that up with a 2-1 win on Tuesday to keep their championship hopes alive.
Playing in front
of their family and friends at the Ray Friel Centre on Thursday night, the
Jr. Grads once again dug down deep to manufacture a 4-1 win despite playing
most of the game with four defenceman and three call-up players. Unfortunately,
they lost two two more of their regular starting defencemen when Patrick
Milligan and Kurtis Craney-Plouffe both had to leave the game with injuries.
With Game 7 scheduled
to go less than 24 hours later, Grads head coach Bob Paquette had no choice
but to add another affiliated player to his lineup in David Labelle who
he called up from the Jr. Grads' Major Midget RepB team.
The Jr. Grads
got off on the right foot by scoring the first goal of the game midway through
the opening period. Unfortunately, it only took the Raiders less than two
minutes to respond. When Eric Witzel was sent off for slashing, Mark Vradenburg
scored during the man advantage on a pass from teammate Chris Shepherd.
After the two
teams changed ends to start the second period, the Jr. Grads had a difficult
time maintaining any sort of sustained pressure in the offensive zone. The
Raiders, meanwhile, had several excellent chances but couldn't score the
go ahead goal until Pat Cameron used Shepherd as a decoy on a 2-on-1 break
and fired a shot that beat Martin Parent low glove side.
The goal lit
a brief fire under the Jr. Grads who tied the game 19 seconds later on a
shot from David Perron who benefited from a rebound off a shot from Mathieu
Mombourquette. Twenty-six seconds later, the Jr. Grads forced the Raiders
to turn the puck over in the neutral zone which they immediately turned
into a scoring opportunity.
intitial shot ricocheted off the far post right to Nicholas Ziebell who
simply had to redirect the puck into a wide open net to give the Jr. Grads
a 3-2 lead heading into the third period.
to go terribly wrong for the Jr. Grads six minutes and 29 seconds into the
third stanza when the Raiders' Pat Cameron made a great move on call-up
defenceman Josh Derouchie before firing a bullet that caught the inside
of the far post to tie the game at 3-3.
The Raiders took
the lead four minutes later on a goal by Kyle Drisdelle that Parent would
dearly love to have back. Drisdelle's wrist shot from the top of the right
face off circle eluded Parent's outstretched trapper and sailed into the
back of the net.
the Grads still had plenty of time to comeback against the Raiders, but
their exhausted bodies just wouldn't allow them to switch things into another
Even so, Desjardins
had a glorious opportunity to tie the game at the 8:15 mark of the third
period but his shot from 20 feet out rang off the left post after it had
clearly beaten Allard.
They would get
other opportunities thanks to a trio of penalties assessed to the Raiders,
but they squandered the first one by taken a bonehead penalty 50 seconds
into the man advantage; they only mustered two shots during the second power
play and they were unable to control the puck during the last 1:37 seconds
of the game after Vradenburg was sent off for roughing.
When the final
whistle blew, several of the Jr. Grads slumped to the ice in total exhaustion
while the Raiders celebrated their victory.
trophy presentations, Jr. Grads head coach Bob Paquette admitted that the
team's grueling schedule over the past two weeks had taken its toll on the
had the desire to win. The kids really wanted it, but they just didn't have
anything left in their legs. The combination of fatigue and a short bench
took its toll on a couple of shifts here and there and it cost us,"
said Paquette. "The kids were exhausted."
The coach singled
out his depleted defensive unit for special praise for hanging in as long
as they did, despite putting in an extended amount of minutes. He also praised
his young coaching staff who are all from the Hearst area.
Asked to pick
out the highlight of the season, Paquette said it was definitely their sweep
of the Kanata Blazers in the semi-finals. The Blazers have been the Jr.
Grads nemesis for the past four or five years, especially in the playoffs
where they've provided the team with early round exit after early round
the highlight of the year. The fact that we eliminated the Blazers after
they had eliminated us so many times," said Paquette. "They've
had our number for so many years. It was nice to finally turn the tables
The Jr. Grads
will now get a week off before wrapping up their season with an exhibition
game against a team from Sweden at the Ray Friel Centre on Wednesday, April 29at 7 p.m.
8:30 a.m., April 4)
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